A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories

Money In Music

“I’m not lying when I say I’ve got £100 in my bank account right now. In the six years I’ve been doing this, I’m not anywhere near the wage that I used to be on when I was a copper.”
Dan Tompkins – TesseracT’s old vocalist who has become the new vocalist again.

You see, being a Police Officer is a job on a salary. It is a community need to have Police Officers. They are there to keep public order and to enforce the rules. Now, being a singer in a progressive rock band means that you are one of many in a crowded marketplace. There is no salary and no guaranteed income. Everyone needs to make a living, however you need to be in the industry for the music first. Money comes a distant second.

Simply economics 101 dictates, when there is unlimited supply of a similar product, demand is low. When supply is limited, demand is high. At this point in time, there is a lot of new music coming out everyday.

So what are the fans going to latch onto?

We don’t know, there is just too much noise, so we wait. Meanwhile that act is percolating, spreading slowly from city to city, country to country. But that takes time. In some cases, a lot of time.

So, it’s time to bust a myth.

Being in a band is a financial struggle.

Being in a band with a label behind you is also a financial struggle, unless you are in the one percent of acts that cross over. The label will give you an advance that they will need to recoup from sales, touring, etc. However if you are in a band and you have an audience that cares, you can monetize that audience so that life is not a financial struggle.

In today’s market, the audience needs to go and find you. The hype and marketing of the past doesn’t work anymore.

TesseracT is a good band who are good musicians and songwriters. However, the big money-oriented labels find these kinds of acts no longer acceptable, unless they start making millions on an indie label.

It’s just a shame that so many fall by the wayside because there’s just too much saturation. It’s always been that way. There’s plenty of good music, it’s just in different places than the equivalent of what being on the radio used to be.

Being an artist means that you have to work for free and if you have worked for free and have built up an audience, then it’s up to you to monetize them. Normally, the record label would enter at this point in time. However, the myth of the label as the hero is greatly exaggerated. I remember the transitional period in the early 80s after MTV broke and made everyone a star and music become a sales driven vehicle.

Look at Protest The Hero. They had a label deal. They sold decently. They had decent film clips. They toured a lot. Then the sales dried up. By the end of it, they had no label and no money. They could have packed it in and done something different.

So what did they do?

They went to their fans to see if anyone cared. They set a target of $125K. They got a lot of hate in the process. Days after launching Indiegogo, they broke past their target. The fans cared.

Just this week, I got an email from Protest about another campaign, a subscription based service. I signed up straight away for the $25 package. Imagine they get the same 10,000 people signing up. You do the math.

Coheed and Cambria broke away from the label’s and went DIY for “The Afterman” releases. Claude got creative with the release package for the double album release and offered up an excellent Super Deluxe package at $70.

And they get opening week sales of 49,500. Assuming those sales are a mixture of Super Deluxe and Normal releases, the gross return is still pretty impressive. Then they had second week sales of 10,200. Third week sales of 4,000. Fourth week sales of 2,800. After four weeks, the band had moved over 60,000 units of the “Ascension” album. Then they went on a year-long victory lap around the world. During that tour, “Descension” comes out, three months after “Ascension” and it moves 40,600 units.

Again, you do the math on gross sales.

It’s hard making money in music, there is no doubt about it, but so is every business enterprise. There is no guarantee that every start-up will succeed, and it’s the same deal for artists. But history has taught us one thing. The artists that stick it out, percolating on the fringes, do end up crossing over. Pink Floyd, Yes, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails and Disturbed are just a few acts that come to mind quickly. And then, the sky is the limit.

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Things That Bug Me With Rock And Metal

ROCK N ROLL HALL OF FAME

Dave Mustaine should have been inducted with Metallica. A real RNR Hall Of Fame Assessor would look into the band’s career and see that all the evidence is there for Dave Mustaine to be inducted. The style of technical thrash that Mustaine brought to Metallica would end up influencing their first four albums.

The induction criteria does state that the committee looks at the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll. So, I take it that Dave Mustaine’s contribution to Metallica and to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll wasn’t influential enough.

BUT for some reason Jason Newsted’s and Rob Trujilio’s contribution to the development and perputation of rock and roll in Metallica was enought.

Same goes for Vinnie Vincent, Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick. The Eighties for Kiss wouldn’t have been the same if it wasn’t for the three individuals mentioned. Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer also played very important roles within Kiss.

BANDS THAT FAIL TO UNDERSTAND THAT SUCCESS IS BASED ON MUSIC

A lot of the metal and rock bands have better marketing campaigns than actual albums. You need a great song first. The marketing comes after.

Dream Theater had a pretty expansive marketing campaign leading up to the album release, however they didn’t have the quality to support it. Good songs don’t equate to great songs and we only have time for great.

Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat and Five Finger Death Punch had way less marketing and their albums are still on people’s tongues. If you still use sales as a barometer of success, then these bands are still moving units.

NICHES

Metal and hard rock are niches. Accept it and focus on it. It will be a lucrative business for you if you do. It will not bring back the glory days of the Seventies and Eighties, however it will give you a career.

Sometimes a metal band can cross-over into hard rock, or even the pop market. Or a hard rock band could cross over into metal or pop.

Look at Volbeat. They are a metal band, however with the style of music they play the have a certain cross over element.

Shinedown crossed over into the pop market back in 2008, with the “The Sound of Madness” album, however with “Amaryllis” they remained in the hard rock market with a small cross over into the metal market. They still had great success, even though the “sales” didn’t match the previous. But who cares about sales these days.

Killswitch Engage cross-over into a few genres, like metal, metalcore, thrash, hard core, melodic death metal and in some cases they cross over into technical djent style metal.

Dream Theater can cross-over into a few genres and it is their cross over between progressive music and hard rock that reaped the most benefits with “Images and Words” and “Scenes From A Memory” being stand outs.

VIRALITY

A song takes off because fans start to spread the word. They share links to it, they talk about it, they blog about it. A marketing campaign can never achieve this. Only great music can.

QUEENSRYCHE

When are the people involved (apart from Chris DeGarmo) going to realise that Queensryhce is no more. Move on, forge a new career and a new identity. I’m tired of hearing how great the new singer is, what a team we now have and all of that.

The Todd LaTorre band should do something similar to what the Ronnie James Dio version of Black Sabbath did before his death. Take a new name from one of their songs. As for Geoff Tate, he should go to Vegas and do a cabaret residency. His metal/rock days are over. And seriously, when you carry on like a child when people use their smart phones at a gig, you don’t belong.

VINYL, CD’s, DIGITAL DOWNLOADS

Streaming has won. The rest of us that actually purchase any music in physical form do it as a hobby. We just don’t think of it as a hobby.

I listen to most of my music on Spotify or YouTube or via the mp3’s on my iPhone, however I still purchase CD’s of bands that I like. BUT I haven’t even opened the shrink wrapping as yet. I have no need to. Buying CD’s is like collecting toys and keeping the toys in their boxes unopened. Maybe the CD’s will be worth something one day or maybe they will be beer coasters. Who knows.

MONEY IN MUSIC

There is still a lot of money in the business. Streaming pays the labels well. It’s just doesn’t filter down to the artists. Revenues from streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and YouTube surpassed the $1bn mark.

ENTERTAINMENT LOBBY GROUPS ASKING GOOGLE TO DO MORE TO PROTECT THEIR BUSINESS MODELS

Seriously after almost 15 years post Napster we are still hearing about this. The latest is The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). It is the usual b.s. about how Google “could do so much more” or that Google have “not been effective” in preventing illegal music downloading.

HELLO, Google is a search engine.

It is not a protector of business models.

Innovate or die.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/media/10704766/Music-industry-claims-Google-is-failing-to-stamp-out-piracy.html

RECORD STORE DAY

Do artists really expect their hard core fans to travel decent distances to go to a Record Store Day Event and then not find all 4 of the (let’s just use Machine Head as an example since I am a fan) new Machine Head singles, “Killers and Kings”. It’s 2014. If we can’t buy it online or if we can’t find it to buy online, then artists are leaving money on the table.

Collectors want to buy, so make it easy for us to buy. Record Store Day is not easy for everyone.

TV SHOWS THAT STILL PLAY ON THE OLD BUSINESS MODELS

My kids love “Arrow” however they hate the fact that they have to wait each week. Will any of the actual TV shows or Cable Networks follow the “House Of Cards” Netflix example and let people overdose on all of the episodes over a weekend.

Having shows appear weekly for 8 episodes, then breaking for what seems like forever and then re-starting again, then breaking again, then finishing it all off, is old school.

Embrace the new.

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